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International Day of Education: How Tender Grassroots is improving education and healthcare in Uganda

How a nonprofit is improving education and healthcare in Uganda

Celebrated on January 24 is The International Day of Education. It is a day to acknowledge the role of education in peace and sustainable development. We are an organization committed to uniting everyone through global education. Hence, we rank education to improve outcomes for children.

We had an insightful conversation with Doka Fatuma, Executive Director at Tender Grassroots. They are a nonprofit organization that provides valuable resources to the community. They do so to empower the community to end the cycle of poverty.

Why is it necessary for us to understand the importance of education?

Doka- People take education for granted. But, we should not. Those who have taken it for granted have a lot of gaps. Education plays a significant role in personal development. So there is the part of education that you get without going to school and socializing with people. This is primary education.

Formal education gives you an outlet to sit and discuss ideas. So if you have that base where you can discuss ideas, it opens a lot of roads. You can do anything you want to as long as you confront it, make informed decisions. You also need to simulate and understand other people better.

So it is an interaction. It is the core of development. It structures what the world should be. And that is why it is an essential thing to do.

How does Tender Grassroots work, and how do you impact society?

Doka – I am from Uganda, and I live in the US.

I once visited one of the schools I attended when I was a kid in Uganda. And I did not like what I saw. The school I visited has about 800 kids. And the classes are so crowded. The ratio for a teacher to students was 1:48. There is no way that teachers could achieve anything fruitful this way. So when I came back to the US, I said this is something that we can improve for kids to have a better education.

One of the things we do is arrange essentials for those kids. For example, some schools here in the US have all these extra books, which they can donate to schools in Uganda. We are trying to get teachers from the US and parts of the country to volunteer.

We are trying to do some fundraising this fall to arrange computers for these schools. They do not have anything like that even at this age. How do you expect them to progress then? That is why we do what we do. There are all these problems out there that we try to highlight.

What were the challenges faced by Tender Grassroots during the pandemic? How was it overcome?

Doka – COVID has affected us a lot. And what people should understand is Uganda is one of the countries that hit the records. For the last two years, kids have not gone to school. There are only around 5% of them who can afford private tutors. But the other 95% cannot. They have been home with no offline or online classes. They do not have access to it since they do not have internet services. They have no books either.

We don’t know what will happen to these kids. There is a vast fallout; especially girls. There is already a gap in education between girls and boys. So what’s going to happen to these girls?

There has been an increase in abuse. These kids are now home, they have nowhere to go, and nobody knows what is going on. And most of them want to get married. So there are a lot of not-so immediate social impacts, but we will see the ripples as time goes.

What problems do you face as a small nonprofit organization?

Doka – One of the things we are trying to do is build a library. So if anything happens again, at least we have a perfect library. And if they don’t have books, they can have a place to go and read. We are also trying to set up a computer lab for those kids. So that is another thing we work on. Unfortunately, funding is very hard right now.

Another issue we have faced is that people don’t want to invest in us. They think we are tiny and won’t make much difference. They invest in larger organizations. It is sad. In larger organizations, half of their money does not reach the community. But if you invest in small communities, 95% to 100% of that money goes into the community. You see a real impact.

I hope somebody somewhere realizes the importance of financing the smaller organizations. So those are some of the things we do. And we have a lot of mentors on the ground. They talk to the young kids and ensure they don’t go astray.

How can corporate volunteers support and help nonprofits like Tender Grassroots?

Doka – Everything we do here is community-supported. We have an agreement with the district. We also have the churches and schools involved.We conduct meetings and come up with what to do. Everyone has to agree and say what they think the community needs. It is how we will go about it. Everyone is accountable for what they have to do. That is how our organization works.So it is an open discussion. We identify things like that. We can do this because we have the local government involved in that area.

This experience lives with you for the rest of your life. It does change you. It does change the way youth think. So yes, the volunteer gets satisfaction from this. But the experience gained here is also unique.

Celebrate International Day of Education with Tender Grassroots and Goodera

Goodera empowers nonprofits such as Tender Grassroots. We help these organizations through brand advocacy, fundraising, and long-term volunteers.

We hope that this interview helped you understand the importance of intercultural programs. And how it helps to create an inclusive community.

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